Thursday, January 30, 2014

7 not remotely quick, getting-reaquainted-again-dear-blog, takes.

Well! Here I am to wade back in to the blogging-water! Goodness, what a few months it has been. Still is being. But I have a bunch of seeds bouncing around in my brain, wanting to come out in writing. I will try not to produce a disjointed alphabet soup, but no promises.

1. Christmas.
  This year, we agreed amongst ourselves that we would cut down on gift spending. We did pollyannas, with the idea of a dollar limit so each person would get one nice gift. Smaller or handmade gifts were not regulated. So, of course a few people went over the limit. Way over. Bob took my list of three suggestions and rather than choosing one, got all three. One being a Kindle Fire, which is now attached to my hand during almost all waking hours. I try to channel it for good. I loaded on a Bible and the Roman Breviary. Hoping Lent provides me with the discipline to read them both daily. Maybe discipline should have been on my list of three, rather than those dressy shoe-boots.

2. The Jesus Retreat-

-Held at picturesque Black Rock Retreat, In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on a snowy weekend in early January. Beside the obvious spiritual refreshment, it is, for Bob and I, a little breather away from the daily grind and from the city. If you have never been to a Charismatic function, I will tell you that there exists an expectation of an outpouring of the Holy Spirit; which is undoubtedly always there, but looked for in certain ways. This year, the way was a quiet one, very gentle. Thankfully, the spiritual maturity of the priests and leaders allowed for this, and there was no pushing, forcing or cajoling. My exposure to Charismatic prayer is limited to once a year, at the Jesus Retreat, and to private prayer. So when I had a few images appear in my mind, I did not recognize them as significant, other than maybe just for myself. I will share them here to give you foundation for what was to come after.

1. We had listened to a talk on the history of the Charismatic movement, the love of God, and the holiness of God. During silent prayer and the quiet singing of worship songs, I mentally saw this image:
My own arm vigorously throwing, in a wide arc, everything I was emotionally carrying, before the Cross of Christ on Calvary. I felt the huge effort expended, and knew that it included everything. All the guilt, real and imagined, all the worry and fear, and all the accumulated stress from my whole life -- heaved on to the ground before the dying Jesus.

Later, when Fr. Kevin was encouraging us to press into the Lord, to persevere in seeking Him in prayer, I saw myself doing the exact same motion as above, with the same hand. Only the arcing movement, this time, was opening the door of my heart, to receive the love of Jesus. I have referred to this image before, the heart of the Blessed Mother that St. John Vianney constructed, in which he physically placed the prayers of his congregation. My own heart was something like that, with a little door.

I also felt a parent-y kind of love while looking around at all the people there. If you are a parent, you know this. How the jeans crinkle at the back of someone's knees, how they wear their scarf, the way their feet turn out or in when they stand. The back of their neck. All these things bring a swell of love, and I felt that this was how God was looking at all of us, myself included. At nothing remarkable we had done, nothing especially artful or that we were trying to accomplish. Just the small details that made us who we were at that moment.

  I have learned over the years about the way God sometimes communicates with us. The textbook way to state it is that He never contradicts his nature. That is to say, that if an impression, prophecy or bit of knowledge does not jive with what we know to be true about God, from scripture or Church teaching, it is not His doing. Going in to the Jesus Retreat this year, I had been struggling with old guilt. It was eating me alive. I felt crushed, weighed down, discouraged. (You may remember my not- so- textbook confession from a previous post). This, I knew, did not have the quality that true contrition for sin has. When God corrects, it is not a heavy burden. It is an invitation to the opposite, a realization that there is a great opportunity for freedom from that sin. Yes, there can be a heaviness on the conscience, necessary to prompt us to action, but there is not a condemning quality to it.

Matthew 11:29-30

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

 During one of the prayer times, I became aware of an opening to meet with one of the seasoned prayer teams for a session of what is called "Unbound" prayer. It is just what it sounds like, prayer to help release a person from anything that may be burdening, binding, or holding them back. I spoke of this guilt I had been carrying around, and was recommended to receive this prayer with a team of two women. Now, I am no stranger to this form of prayer. Years ago, I took a course in healing prayer, and more recently, read the book Unbound. I was a little nervous, but they were extremely down to earth, gentle, and so clearly knowledgeable about the process, I was put at ease. Also very non-dramatic, which helped a great deal. God doesn't need us to glam up the works. We proceeded to very deliberately go through the events of my life. And I do mean my_life_. How patient they were! 
I will spare you the details, because, really, it was not exciting to the observer. But, on the inside, I know something was accomplished. Not because I came away looking or even feeling different. It's just that I know I threw that stuff at the feet of Jesus, and opened my heart anew to let him in to the deepest parts. And that He still looks at me, with all my idiosyncrasies, like a parent looks at their child, with love. I know I have been freed, because I asked to be so, and He does not give me a stone when I ask for bread.

3. The Pope and the "Charismatics."

I stumbled across this article on facebook one day. I read the comments there before clicking through to the article. I really wondered if we all read the same article. There was condescension and outright condemnation of people that are part of the Charismatic movement. The article is quite the opposite.
I was not about to jump into any sort of online comment war. But, here is how I see it.

1. I am not an immature Catholic.
2. I love and attend the Traditional Latin Mass as much as I can. I do not try to integrate any charismatic anything into it.
3. When I attend the Novus Ordo, I also do not hold hands, raise my hands in the orans posture, or anything else charismatic-y. I don't even silently pray in tongues.
4. The ONLY time I pursue activities of a charismatic nature is a). in private prayer; b). at a prayer meeting or worship session. Sometimes with the blessed sacrament present. Every time with a trusted priest leading. Always with order, sobriety, reverence.

All the Charismatic Catholics I know operate this way. Sure, I guess you could find examples of those that act otherwise.

It was just galling to read comments that directly opposed what Pope Francis said.
Okay. Now I feel better.

4. Owies.

     I have a pinched nerve and the beginnings of arthritis in my neck. Going to a good chiropractor. But I've found it has it's benefits.. Turn my head the wrong way while railing at a bad driver on the road? oops! Offer up my neck pain for that one! Praying for kids? Offer that last crunchy neck twinge! It's like a portable sacrifice.

5. New Yawk.

So, Bob's piano teacher, Josh Wright, played a dual concert with Mary Anne Huntsman last Thursday, at Carnegie Hall. Josh is getting his doctorate at U of M in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. So Bob's lessons are done via Skype. Going to see Josh play at Carnegie Hall was a nice chance for them to meet, and of course, an exciting thing just for us to do.  Josh and Mary Anne have known each other since childhood. She said this onstage, by way of introduction. They grew up together. So okay, I took that in.
Concert happens. She is very good. Her bio states she has played for White House functions and foreign dignitaries. She teaches in China. Also, she is extremely glamorous. Gown-change, hair- style-change-at -intermission-glamorous. I am telling you about her, because while we watched the concert, something was bouncing around in my brain, trying to tell me something. I really wasn't listening. 
Josh played SO well. His playing stole the show. He is a good looking young man of 26. (He kept the same suit and hairstyle the entire time). He played exquisitely. He was so engaged with the music he was making, that we couldn't help be captivated, too.
Intermission. We stretch our legs. Use the restrooms. Upon coming out, This is who I think I see standing two feet in front of me.

I don't want to stare, and Bob isn't sure. The concert is an outreach to students, and it doesn't seem likely.
Okay. Second half of the concert. Something is still needling me; something familiar. Ms.Huntsman comes out in gown #2 and a change to the hairstyle. Huntsman. Grew up with Josh. Josh is Morman. Utah. Huntsman. Could it be? Some connection with that Huntsman. Mormon, from Utah? Nah!
Although...she is a polished, world-traveling, White House-performing, comfortable in the spotlight sort of girl...

So. Yes. She is the daughter of former Governor Jon Huntsman. Former Presidential hopeful Huntsman. Former Ambassador to China Huntsman. AND. She at some point dated Josh Groban. They are still friendly, and like to "support"one another at performances.

Josh and Josh

Bob and I were told to Get Out after the concert, while we tried just to get a message back to (our) Josh. No dice.Ushered out quickly and unceremoniously Not a huge deal, but the staff in Philly, thank you for treating us like we are special.

Next morning, we had a lovely breakfast with Josh and his wife Lindsey. Both just the nicest.

Bob and Josh.

I did not get really any pictures of my own in New York. My bad. It was very chaotic, and slightly overwhelming. And so, so cold while were outside, that I couldn't bring myself to take off my gloves and dig out my Kindle. 

6. Josh Wright

So you can see how creative and talented he is, here is a video Josh made. He got a lot of negative comments about the destruction of the piano. Makes me scratch my head--do these people not watch any TV or movies where lots of things are destroyed, including PEOPLE, and did they not see that the piano in question was barely being held together with some dental floss to begin with?

We think he is a rising star and wish him all the best. His wife is also a player/teacher of piano, super accomplished in her own right. Imagine the children of these two someday!

7. The Way

My new drug of choice Kindle also has Netflix on it. Father McDermott, who also blessed us with his teaching at The Jesus Retreat, spoke of walking the Camino. He carried the movie, The Way with him to lunch. Intrigued, a few days ago, I saw that it was on Netflix, and watched it. I really liked it, and stayed up way too late looking up "El Camino de Santiago." Thinking it would be a really neat thing to do. It's not remotely practical, but I'm not one to rule out something just because it seems unlikely. Or impossible.

 So, who's in?


  1. Nice to see you back Kelly. I hope things have gotten better. Oh, you wrote so much a number of things came to mind.

    1. My wife is glued to her Kindle Fire as well. I also got her Kindle Fire for Christmas. She's had a regular Kindle before that for a few years, and she always liked it, but the Fire has her completely absorbed. By the way, Amazon puts out free books and deals every day. Here's their website for it and you can sign up there for free emails. Now 99% of the time there's nothing of interest but every so often I get surprised and find something. In fact there's a bio of St. Francis there tongiht that caught my eye:

    2. I had forgotten about The Reign of Kindo. I was supposed to check them out. Did they ever come out with a new album?

    3. My nephew got his PhD at Uof M in music, but in trumpet. He now teaches at U of Mississippi and plays in a symphony down there. In Mobile I think. A few months ago he put out his first record. Here it is on Amazon. He's Jason Bergman, you can sample the pieces:
    I think those 1 minute clips they offer shows how good he is, especially clip #5.

    4. Oh my on meeting Huntsman's daughter. Intersting. My nephew I just mentioned is also Mormon (don't ask). I wonder if he knows Josh. Mormon, Uof M, music. Too much of a coincidence. I wouldn't be surprised.

    1. I know Manny, long. Especially for a seven-takes post. I hope it isn't so rambling that people don't read it.

      1. Than I am in good company. :) I do have a daily email from something called Book Bub. Agreed, that there is a gem in there once in a while. I just read two books by William Landay. Great police/courtroom drama/mysteries. Very smart. Author was a lawyer. I also borrow ebooks from the Philadelphia Free Library. So I don't pay for hardly anything.

      2.TROK's newest album is called Playing with Fire, it came out in 2013. I love it. It is easy to find on Spotify, or to order from their website.

      3.Fantastic about your nephew! I will give it a listen later on today! The Philadelphia Orchestra is hosting a play-in for woodwinds. The bad thing is that it's in two weeks, and I would have to be playing my bassoon for the entire time in order to be even remotely ready. gar! I miss playing.

      4.Yes, definitely ask him if he knows Josh! He and his wife just did a recital on Saturday. I think they are fairly high profile around there. Although, sometimes piano players and wind players don't cross paths too much. Bob and I attended the same (then) tiny music school in Philly at the same time and never met up.

      I hope to get my blogging mojo back. It is a good outlet.

  2. Kelly - I am SO happy for you and the experience you had at the Jesus Retreat! That's one aspect of the charismatic movement that I really appreciate - our hearts seems to open wider to Him in that environment, which enables Him to move the mountains that block His way in our souls. And you were very gracious in your description of how the charismatic movement fits in to the larger Church experience. Hey, if the Popes haven't had a problem with it (AND THEY HAVEN'T) how can the laity find it appropriate to be dismissive?

    1. Thank you for your gracious comment, Anna. I have actually read some negative things about the Pope's approval of the movement, (actually it is an apostolate).I realize I have been blessed to have 1. had the "other" kind of charismatic experience, and as a Catholic, have had wonderful leadership and teaching.I would be the first one to accept that I need all the help I can get in my spiritual life, and if the Lord deigns to console me in this way, I'll take it!